Israel is getting ready for the big day: On March 17th, citizen residents in Israel will vote for the 20th Knesset since the country’s founding. Then, the politicians we see every night on TV will go head to head for 120 Knesset seats. … Each citizen has one vote. Unlike other democracies, this vote is not given to a candidate, but to a list. And this list is either a political party or a union of parties, such as for example the Zionist camp that unified Zipi Livni’s HaTnua and Avoda, the Labour Party. … Anyone with Israeli citizenship and over the age of 18 is eligible to vote: So that’s Arabs, Druze, Christians and Jews alike. People in prison or who currently do their army service are also eligible to vote. However, this does exclude most of the inhabitants of East Jerusalem who only have a permanent residency and not an Israeli ID. This is due to the difficult status of East Jerusalem. Israeli citizens can’t vote from abroad. You just have to ensure you’re in Israel on election day. That is, apart from diplomats and Israeli embassy staff based abroad. These people vote at the earlier date of March 5th to ensure their votes arrive in Israel to be counted on election day. It is debatable, but many parties and politicians think that you need to live in Israel to influence its future because it is much too easy to sit thousands of miles away and make a decision that probably won’t influence your life.
Only God and the envelop know whom you voted for. So as in any other democracy, the vote in Israel is secret. It also is direct which means: there is no electoral college.
To cast a vote, Israelis have to go to the one of over 10.000 polling stations all over Israel. Dean Livne explains:
You can only vote on your designated polling place. After they identify you, they give you an envelope which two members of the station committee have signed on. You go behind the screen you chose a note, put it in the envelope. And before the voting station committee, put in in the polling place. After that, the secretary crosses your name from the list, you cannot vote again and no one can vote in your name.
So each voter chooses a note or paper slip. What does that mean? Unlike many other countries, no one has to pull out a pen and make a cross. Instead in every polling station, the voters will find a box with 27 different piles of paper slips. In each pile are slips with party name initials. There’s also a pile with blank slips. Whoever wants to vote in against ALL the lists, in other words, express dissatisfaction with all the parties on offer, can select the blank slip.
Full Article: Part II: What happens to my VOTE – Israeli Elections 101.